D.C. Life In The Garden - Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

The Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus, other authorities list the species under genera Iphiclides, Graphium and Papilio) is a swallowtail butterfly native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada. Its distinctive wing shape and long tails make it easy to identify, and its black and white-striped pattern is reminiscent of a zebra. The butterflies are closely associated with pawpaws, and are rarely found far from these trees. The green or black caterpillars feed on the leaves of various pawpaw species, while the adults feed on flower nectar and minerals from damp soil.

The Zebra Swallowtail has a wingspan of 6.4 to 10.4 centimeters (2.5 to 4.1 in). The triangular wings are white to greenish-white with black longitudinal stripes. A pair of swordlike tails extend from the hind wings. The inner margin of the hind wing has two blue spots on the corner and a red spot near the body. A red stripe runs along the middle of the ventral hind wing. E. marcellus has two seasonal forms, one occurring in the spring and the other in the summer. Spring forms are smaller, more white, and have short, black tails with white tips. Summer forms are larger, have broader black stripes, and longer, black tails with white edges.

Written by: Eugene Smith 


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